One of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial steel valves is hoping to pry open the secrets of managing its IT assets more effectively through the software it uses to run its help desk.

Velan Valve Corp. has been using

Mississauga, Ont.-based Help Desk Technology Corp.’s HelpStar for about two years, but will start using asset management capabilities included in the most recent upgrade by the third quarter of this year. Based in Montreal, Velan employs over 1,400 people, mostly in North America, and is the largest manufacturer of industrial steel gate, globe and check valves in the world.

Les Borelowski, Velan’s manager of IT operations, said the company migrated from HelpStar 7 to version 8.1 shortly after it came out in March. After attending a two-day training session on the product, Borelowski said he was intrigued by features that would trace the history of problem-plagued IT equipment down to the original purchase order, and find out whether it is still under warranty.

“”We keep separating all these items with the purchase order, with the actual request, with the user name,”” he said. “”When people call in with, for example, a dead monitor, this will definitely be a big tool for us.””

Velan employs a single help administrator who serves as the central point of contact for six technicians serving more than 450 users. The help desk handles about 60 to 75 calls per day, and HelpStar has allowed the administrator to perform some preliminary troubleshooting, Borelowski said. About 25 per cent of all requests can be dealt with without having to dispatch a technician.

“”We’re finding there’s a lot of repetition in our problems,”” he said. “”Whether that is going to result in better training for end users, we don’t know yet. But we’re noticing that the users are definitely lacking (training).””

Help Desk Technology product manager Gemma Young said IT departments are typically responsible for both managing requests and keeping better track of products in the enterprise inventory.

“”They’re normally responsible not just for managing user requests and training, but they’re also responsible for the assets those users are using,”” she said.

“”With a good asset management system you can automatically scan the PCs you have on your network, you can link them to relevant users and you can also link your service requests to the asset that’s experiencing or causing the problem,”” she said.

Most HelpStar customers start with a basic system and get their workflow figured out and then allow users to submit requests via e-mail, Young said. That reduces call volumes and get their support people solving problems instead of spending time on the phone.

Borelowski said he initially chose Help Desk Technology based on the company’s focus around a single set of IT problems.

“”(They’re) not like the bigger players who have their hands into everything,”” he said.

Young said a lot of departments like sales and marketing have to show how they’re benefiting the business, which is why some help desks now are starting to turn themselves into internal businesses.

“”They can actually show financial figures for the amount of work they’re taking on,”” she said. “”If they can show you spent $350 in support on that particular machine, that means a lot more than saying you spent five hours in support on a particular machine.””

Velan operates five different facilities, four of which are in Montreal, and Borelowski said HelpStar’s Web-based interface would allow technicians to access the system from anywhere.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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